The kelp anchors looked like something from a Sci-Fi movie.
Ah, Cape Town. Existing below the equator, this South African city is renowned for its unique coastline and urban-meets-nature feel. I was bracing for chilly winter weather, but this metropolis (found at the edge of the continent) was rain-free and replete with sunshine! Having recently come from Mozambique, I was excited about the change in scenery, as well as some longed-for creature comforts (mainly hot showers and veggies).
Of course, I had to go to Table Mountain National Park, a protected space that stretches much more extensively than I had originally anticipated. Yes, it includes the iconic Table Mountain, but this natural place also encompasses an assortment of gorgeous hikes and impeccable coast land around the city and throughout the peninsula.
It was a beautiful drive down to Cape of Good Hope – the southwestern most part of the continent. Sure, the place was riddled with tourists, but I was able to pull away from the crowds to enjoy the crashing waves, unique cliffs, and sea-salt-infused air.
But mostly I enjoyed the sights.
You’ll recall that Channel Islands National Park was one of my favorites. The combination of rock, ocean, and greenery was the perfect recipe (in my opinion) for an outdoor setting. Well, picture this same assortment all around. It seemed that whenever the car turned a corner or whichever direction I faced, there were impeccable vistas that absolutely captivated me.
The ocean(s), in and of itself, was sublime – this is where the Indian and Atlantic meet. The shrub-covered ground was teeming with interesting plants while the mountains served as an amazing backdrop. There were wild ostriches flocking about and some odd-looking antelope (apparently called an eland). Warning signs about mischievous baboons made me anticipate seeing one, but they must have decided to stay hidden.
Yes, the area around Cape Town is so pretty! It was a delightful place to spend time out-of-doors.
When my pilot friend (who also happens to be a flight instructor) said, “Let’s go flying”, I was 100% onboard – literally.
It was a crisp, clear day with views for miles. I observed the lacy patterns on the semi-frozen Potomac River that lay surrounded by snow-dusted grounds. The deciduous trees stood as tiny skeletons while pockets of deep green marked the clusters of their evergreen friends. The Chesapeake Bay was a sight to behold with its glossy surface reflecting the sun, making the light dance as we flew lazy eights above.
I was experiencing my world from a completely new perspective, and thoroughly enjoying it. Things looked prettier from up high, away from the concrete and busyness on the ground. My birds-eye-perspective rendered everything as smaller, simpler, yet somehow even more beautiful.
And yes, getting a chance to take-off and actually fly a bit myself added to my sense of awe.
I was surrounded by air, far from the world as I know it, yet still experiencing the natural world in a phenomenal way.
I cherished every minute of it.
* The commercial flights I’ve taken wherein I share elbow space with other humans and have just a peek of blue sky out a too-small window don’t truly count as a “nature experience”
Sunsets on the Pacific are pretty stellar. The entire sky emits a gorgeous scheme of colors that reflect off of the ocean. Taking a horseback ride on the beach with dusk approaching rendered this Mexican moment even more glamorous. The sun hovered around the horizon casting long rays of light out onto the sandy shore.
As night settled in, I was able to explore some hot springs along the beach. Steaming water bubbles up in a “secret” location. Anyone with a shovel and a lil’ bit of grit can essentially dig their own hot tub. Some places within the pit were too hot for even my feet to handle.
Mexico, you’re a quirky country, with lots of fun things to explore… especially when the sun goes down.
The waves picked up, barreling over my kayak as I struggled to paddle perpendicular to the shore. The salt spray blinded me momentarily until I was through the shore break and out into the relatively calm waters.
It was a beautiful Thanksgiving day south of the border. An almost record high of 85° convinced me to brave the chilly Pacific waters. The bright sun was intense – a welcome relief from my recent dunk in the ocean. I bobbed on the sea for a spell, thinking about everything and nothing. My last experience in the Pacific involved a surfing lesson after my time spent in the Channel Islands.
It was then that I spotted a brown face and sleek body emerging from the ocean’s surface. A sea lion decided to swim on by, checking out this oddly colored piece of plastic floating in his waters. I watched, I listened, I enjoyed life.
Fast forward 4 hours.
Bike riding along the beach was a fun pass time, but I was on a mission: hunting for sea slugs. These fascinating creatures are squishy mollusks that release reddish ink when disturbed. After a zippy three-mile bike ride, I found one!
My Mexico Thanksgiving was full of unique experiences and living “treasures”. I took a moment to appreciate my special outdoor experiences and how blessed I am to continue trekking around the world seeking out natural spaces.
I was also grateful that the sea slug ink came off… eventually.
The gentle murmur of waves greeted me as I shook off my morning slumber. Half asleep, I listened to the ocean purr and gurgle, rhythmic in its lullaby. Pulling on my hoodie, I tiptoed out to the shore for a morning stroll.
Pelicans dove violently for their breakfast while gulls skittered nearby picking for crabs buried stealthily in the sand. And oh, the sand! So fine it felt like flour, with tiny flecks of gold in it that caught the light of the rising sun. My feet took pleasure in its sloppy wet feel, and I gazed out over the Pacific Ocean.
This was Mexico.
I was expecting a touristy vibe similar to that of Cancun, especially knowing that the Baja Coast is a well-developed region. We pulled down a dirt road to get to the beach casa and narrowly missed hitting livestock on the way in. When “security” had to pull a rope tied to a rock to lift the gate arm, I knew I was in for a genuine Mexican adventure.
But back to the beach.
It was just me and the ocean at 6:30 am. Cold salt water (pleasant) and the smell of something burning somewhere (not so pleasant). I walked back to the house to get a cup of coffee, and saw the dolphins: seven of them cruising along the surf, leaping joyfully in the air. I waved back and smiled.
I was quite content to watch these fascinating creatures for another 20 minutes, while they took their time whisking through the sea. A feeling of complete and utter kinship accompanied me.
It was only 7 am, and it was going to be a darn good day.